US Fisheries Service which is charged with protecting marine mammals has to finalize and implement protections for false killer whales by November 30, 2012, court rules.
False killer whales in the “Hawaiʻi Insular Stock” (animals found within 76 nautical miles of the main Hawaiian Islands) are being killed in Hawaiʻi-based longlines at nearly twice the sustainable rate, contributing to a 9 per cent decline in the population each year since 1989.
Currently, the Hawaii stock is estimated at 270 whales and the Northern Gulf of Mexico stock at 1040 whales.
False killer whales are large members of the dolphin family. Females reach lengths of 4.5m (15 feet), while males are almost 8m (20 feet). In adulthood, false killer whales can weigh approximately 700kh (1500 pounds ).
These whales are gregarious and form strong social bonds. They are usually found in groups of ten to twenty that belong to much larger groups of up to 40 individuals in Hawai'i and 100 individuals elsewhere.
Food sharing has been documented between individual false killer whales. They feed during the day and at night on fishes and cephalopods, and they are known to attack smaller dolphins that are involved in the tuna purse-seine fishery in the Pacific Ocean.
It is high time to end this slaughter. The Fisheries Service needs to issue rules that prioritize species protection over commercial exploitation.
—Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network